Nintendo has owned the portable gaming market for the better part of two decades, but a number of interesting challengers have flooded the market in recent years. With the announcement of the Sony PlayStation Portable Nintendo’s crown seemed to be in jeopardy, but few have taken the time to realize that the Tapwave Zodiac
and the Nokia N-Gage
were also viable contenders to the throne. To respond to the recent influx, Nintendo has decided to answer the call by releasing the DS, a dual-screened portable system with the power to produce 3D graphics. We’re not sure yet, but we’re confident that Nintendo will be keeping its throne, especially when it has heavy hitters like Activision’s Spider-Man 2 in its lineup.
Spider-Man 2 more or less follows the daily life of Spider-Man as he tows the line between super hero and everyday geek. Like the comic, he often is faced with consequential circumstances that will often affect his life. His own selflessness is the very device which damns him to a life of loneliness and darkness; to the point where he consistently puts the good of the city ahead of his own personal needs. I’m not saying that video game elaborates upon all of these themes, but it does a decent job of conveying them to the gamer. The storyline unfolds via a mix of still images, pre-rendered videos and in-game dialogue. From the start the game takes advantage of the dual screen support by placing all of the dialogue in the bottom screen while keeping the action to the top screen.
You’ll be taken through a journey across fourteen chapters as you do battle with the lowlifes that fill the streets of New York, including Doc Ock. Most of the chapters are of the side-scrolling variety where you will need to roam the levels in search of a goal. In an early level you’ll need to enter a burning building and save the tenants from the flames. The following level will require you to take out a group of bank robbers before they can flee the scene of the crime. Most of the levels are of this variety and some will add in a time limit just to make your life a little more difficult. For instance, later on you’ll need to defeat Mysterio’s minions within 10 minutes so that you can meet up with Aunt Mae later on.
As if the minions weren’t hard enough, you’ll have that countdown timer breathing down the back of your neck. And trust us, this game is hard. Not Contra
hard, but hard enough to cause you to sprout a few grey hairs. You never really get mad at the game though because the difficulty is derived on how well you play platformers on a small handheld. I wasn’t accustomed to all that was going on and I paid for by getting my ass handed to me over and over on a consistent basis. My girlfriend fared a lot better but she ran into a stumbling block on the Mysterio battle. In all it should really provide a good challenge to you, no matter what skill level you are. I can’t say for certain how long the game is, but I spent the better part of two hours completing four levels from different parts of the game. If I’d have to make an estimate I’d say that it’s at least in the six-to-eight hour range. If you’re looking to accomplish the full scope of the game and gain a 100% completion rate it’ll take about 10 hours. That’s extremely long for a handheld platformer, considering that you can beat most of them within two hours.
This isn’t to say that the game is perfect; the mission structure is flawed and can become problematic at times. Each level allows you to roam freely instead of sticking you to a confined path; this would be nice had the game not require you to hunt each and every single individual enemy in order to advance. I had a point-by-point reviewer’s guide that told me the location of each enemy and I still ran into trouble on occasion. It’s kind of like going on an Easter Egg hunt, except the eggs fight back and are more than capable of scrambling your brains. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t derail the game but it definitely is the source of the game’s problems. What this does is it forces you to replay each level over and over until you can memorize it from front to back. I wish that the game would have allowed me to progress on the basis of my own aptitude as opposed to my ability to memorize the levels.
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